Rapconteur

by Baba Brinkman

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1.
09:58
Run your fingers over the stones of this ancient city These temples of worship and places of business And picture them falling into desolation Just drifting sand and standing walls and vacant buildings You can’t take it with you where you’re going But someone who comes here in five thousand years Exploring might unearth a recording That tells the world your story Some confabulation of words stored in a subterranean Purgatory could well emerge to tell those Who still dwell on earth that you were born And that your works were worth reporting Well this is the first story; not the oldest Told by troubadours, but the oldest in written form ‘Cause who can say whether troubadours don’t improve Their sources, of course the origins of the story are oral But it was preserved for thousands of years In Akkadian verse tablets and Sumerian cuneiform Preserved like Cuban cigars in a humidor So we can be sure that it’s true to its source Not a folk story transformed in ten thousand villages But a relic of the ancient world, preserved with diligence The oldest narrative that still exists The epic of Gilgamesh When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body Like Arnie when his films were still impressive Like Conan the Barbarian, physical brilliance Like sculpted steel as flesh The gods endowed him with strength and courage and fine Features; in terms of appearance he was the first in line Brad Pitt would have looked liked a turd beside him He was one third mortal, and two thirds divine And as an aside, I guess the Sumerians when this poem was written Were not aware of chromosome division Or Mendellian genetics; no organism That reproduces sexually is two-thirds of anything Maybe they calculated paternity as a percentage Of the number of men that the mother had been with before she got pregnant Which is the case with certain indigenous South American Indians Increasing the incentive for the men to collaborate on parental investment But when the gods are involved these calculations are irrelevant Because they’re practically omnipotent And Gilgamesh was a mortal man with two-thirds god genes In the Sumerian catalogue of kings He’s listed as the fifth ruler of Uruk after the flood came And washed away all things So our story begins with Gilgamesh in charge of the peace And the people of Uruk, not pleased And why were they less than pleased? Because Gilgamesh was an extreme sex fiend To put it simply, he deflowered every virgin And slept with the wife of every peasant and the daughter Of every nobleman whenever he felt the urge and For the people of Uruk, this was a heavy burden In fact, the original version only says That the men found it a heavy burden Which begs the question: was the consent of these women earned Or did he just take it? My inclination is to stay with the basics Nowhere is he referred to as Gilgamesh the rapist Which means he had game and the men were jealous haters But don’t these questions always plague men of status Was he Bill Clinton-esque or Tiger Woods with a waitress? Or was he Roman Polanski or Mike Tyson dangerous? I can’t possibly say from these ancient pages But I’d prefer to work with a sympathetic protagonist So in my version, he gets the benefit of the doubt Gilgamesh impressed the women with his physical prowess But his sexual endowments were hateful to his people So they huddled in their houses and prayed for relief To the gods, like “Please, make him an equal!” And the gods heard their pleas, and created Enkidu Enkidu was a wild man Tarzan of the highlands His body was covered in hair in fine mats He knew nothing of civilization and finance A feral child, he ran with the Ibex And ate nothing but plants, plus he was massive He had this habit of releasing animals from traps And snares whenever they got captured And eventually one of the trappers ran back to The city to ask Gilgamesh for some answers He said: “There is this massive hairy man Who keeps smashing the traps we set in mountain pastures He’s either half-animal, or he’s an animal rights activist But either way I’m at my wits’ end, any suggestions? And Gilgamesh said “Here’s what you do You go to Ishtar’s temple and you get a prostitute” Now, Ishtar was the Goddess of love, and destruction too And her priestesses offered free sex to the multitude Maybe religion is something even Christopher Hitchens Could’ve gotten into if that’s what it offered you So Gilgamesh said, “Yeah, you get this temple ho This child of pleasure, and you get her to go with you Down to the watering hole, and you get her to take off her clothes And this wild man, well, he won’t be wild no mo…” Whoah, forgive the ebonic Inflections, but I just always wanted To use the word “ho” in an epic Anyway, it happened exactly as Gilgamesh predicted Enkidu came down to the lake to take a drink And he saw this beautiful, soft, naked being This succulent, supple lady, and she Embraced him and… shwing! For six days and seven nights they lay by the lakeside Insatiably shagging, and it was his first time! But after when he tried to go back to his animal friends They just looked at him and fled Innocence lost Enkidu’s intimate frolics with the temple harlot Had cost him his connection with nature – never again Would his animal friends accept him as one of them And from that day forward he was civilized The prostitute fed him bread and wine And said “Enkidu, you are wise, why sleep in the wild When there’s shelter nearby?” And she took his hand And led him like a child to the shepherds’ tent And bade him step inside and she clothed and bathed him And he stayed with the shepherds for a stretch of time And protected them from lions Enkidu stayed with the shepherds for a while but soon Word arrived from the city that there was a wedding And Gilgamesh was claiming his birthright The privilege of “First Night” That is, the right to be the first to fertilize The bride on her wedding night Just like the English did to the Scottish before 1305 When William Wallace kicked their asses, which served them right Well, the Sumerian groom was also quite perturbed by This incursion into his personal life And when Enkidu heard about this, he turned white With anger and traveled to Uruk, determined to fight The bridal bed was made; a virgin lay within it A trembling, nervous babe As Gilgamesh approached the house, determined to get laid But Enkidu stepped in front of him and blocked his way Clash of the Titans Their grasps were like vice grips as they grappled and tightened Their massive biceps, striving like angry bisons Each man trying to gain the upper hand on his rival It was a wrestling match that cracked the keystones In the walls of Uruk and shook the ziggurats And the foundations of peoples’ homes But in the end, Enkidu was thrown He paid his respects to Gilgamesh for besting him And Gilgamesh was impressed that someone had even tested him Because every man he’d ever met until then was estrogen And from then on he treated Enkidu like his next of kin Now, Gilgamesh was obsessed with legacy building He wanted his name to be etched on bricks And listed where the names of famous men are written So they embarked on a campaign of adventurism They traveled to the Lebanese hills To the cedar forest where they cut down trees And defeated the “evil” demon guardian The protector of those sweet resources Everyone tried to warn them off this quest They said: “Don’t go! The demon’s jaws are death When he says humbaba, humbaba, hum-humbaba It’s like he has napalm for breath But no one could convince them to stop Because Gilgamesh believed that he was on a mission from God And when they reached the demon, his defenses were weak They overpowered him easily and he fell to his knees Pleading like a refugee, like a fugitive In a spider hole, begging for his life But they were icy cold, they executed him With three precise blows and turn their eyes towards home Other adventures awaited, Ishtar tried to Seduce Gilgamesh by offering herself to him naked But he rejected her and she flew into a jealous rage Full of indignation, determined to take veangence She released the Bull of Heaven, a personified drought Which they defeated with a sword strike, somehow But Gilgamesh was really swelling with pride now So the gods said; “Time to take this guy down” They took the side route; they knew that Enkidu was His Achilles heel, because he was the key to his Feelings, so the gods decreed that Enkidu would Soon cease to exist, and he fell into a deep sickness And had a feverish dream vision of life after death In which he was a feathered wretch, sitting in pitch Darkness, staring ahead at an endless stretch Of time, and he cursed everyone he’d ever met Since he left the wilderness, the prostitute, the trapper, Everyone except for Gilgamesh Who stood by his side singing a death lament Until Enkidu’s final breath was spent For the rest of this story Gilgamesh is an emotional wreck in a state of perpetual mourning On a desperate quest to make his flesh immortal And it’s interesting, but it isn’t worth reporting It’s fragmented and repetitive and it never really finishes Although it does contain a fascinating parallel with Genesis Suffice to say, immortality eluded him And he returned to Uruk in a state of disillusionment And lived out his life just like the rest of us do By having children and making civic improvements So he didn’t live forever, but he did leave descendents Which means his genes probably make up one tenth of one tenth Of one percent of one hundred thousand Middle Eastern residents But this form of immortality is just divisive And he left us his story, the Epic of Gilgamesh Which he chiseled into the walls of his city while building it And it tells us that this human obsession with living forever in The face of certain death is something we’ve always wrestled with Which tells us something about what it is to be human If immortality exists, then I guess you’re listening to it
2.
It’s the story of a rich old man, January He’s still a bachelor at sixty, but now he plans to marry And he’s looking for a beautiful young wife Which is an option for rich old geezers sometimes See, January was one of those “secularists” Which means he had no control over his sexual urges He couldn’t say which was better, gettin’ laid or gettin’ paid He just knew when he was gettin’ one, the other would get away But then he changed, whether from religious sensibility Or whether he just got thick-headed from senility I can’t say, but suddenly he wanted it January became a dedicated monogamist Instead of a misogynist, treating women like objects It’s funny how our attitudes change with our prospects Yeah, marriage is a beautiful thing Especially for those who are too old to swing That’s when it’s nice to just stay home with your wife Instead of chasing waterfalls, ‘cause it’s cold outside Take my advice, all you bachelor men If you want love and happiness and companionship You need a wife, a woman who will never be impatient No more rejection and constant humiliation Or anyway, that’s what January would say Once he decided he was ready for his wedding day So he asked his friends to help him find somebody And said “Guys, just try to make sure she’s under twenty I want sex appeal, not a tough old cow I want some tender veal, instead of know-how I want a woman I can mold right now with my own hands Not a pre-fab thirty-year-old, I want some warm wax Well, soon a young girl caught his fancy And he said he had to have her if he wanted to be happy And I’ll skip the details of how they got engaged Except just to say: rich men get the females The girl that he chose was named May A pretty eighteen-year-old with a baby face And when the wedding day came, the pairing was gorgeous They looked like Calista Flockhart and Harrison Ford If Calista was more like Miley Cyrus’ age Yeah, everyone agreed that the bride was a babe And January just watched her with lust in his eyes And all he really wanted was to bust in her thighs But first he had to get through the vows and feast And the speeches, while suppressing his eagerness But when the last guest in the villa went home He took his bride to bed – she lay as still as a stone As he caressed her, and said “Sorry I have to hurt you But the church say sex within marriage is a virtue And now that we’re husband and wife I can make tonight last as long as I like” And in spite of his age, January stayed solid And several long hours of unpleasantness followed And in the morning, instead of passing out He sat up in bed singing and laughing out loud And she just watched him, like “Ew, he’s crazy old! The wrinkles on his neck look like the skin of a baby mole!” And so on, and January singin’ his verses With his wife lying next to him, thinkin’ he’s worthless So we’ll just leave May in bed with her disappointment And I’ll talk about the fly in the ointment January had an assistant named Damian He was at the wedding, yeah, he was one of his favorites But Damian couldn’t even enjoy the day Because Damian had eyes only for May But he knew he couldn’t tell her ‘cause his boss was jealous And January had sway like the Rockafellers So he thought to himself that the sure way to get her Was to write the girl a note, oh yes, a love letter When he finished the note, like a sneaky sneak Damian hid it somewhere she would find it secretly And he signed his name to it, he was takin’ his chances ‘Cause a young man’s likelihood of mating advances By takin’ risks – that’s how human nature is ‘Cause the girls love a guy if he’s dangerous And when May found the note, she read it and smiled ‘Cause he was kinda sweet, plus it was written with style And it said: “PS – I’m dead if you tell your husband” So she ripped it into fifty little pieces and flushed it Well after that things changed Damian and May played the winking game But they couldn’t follow through ‘cause there was a jealous guy In the mix – January kept a watchful eye On his chick, and the months passed by But January was old – he was slowly going blind Which was increasing Damian’s chance of penetration Thank goodness for advanced macular degeneration And if January was jealous before Well, his blindness amplified it just a little bit more He was so afraid to find his wife in a tryst That he kept one hand at all times on her wrist With no exceptions, not even for toilet breaks While she peed he would hover beside her like a coiled snake Guarding its eggs, but his problem wasn’t solved 'Cause her lack of freedom just increased her resolve And pretty soon, opportunity knocked ‘Cause January liked to take afternoon walks In the garden, holding May by the elbow He didn’t trust her for a second on her own, hell no! The garden was surrounded by a wall with a locked gate He wanted privacy to exercise his prostate With May when he pleased in a grove of trees And a chain around his neck held the only key But January slept like a corpse after strolls So May copied the key in a warm wax mold When he was passed out, and passed it out the window To Damian, along with a note containing info On what he should do, how long he should take When he should enter the garden gate, and where he should wait And he obeyed, Damian did what he was told A guy’s gotta roll with it when a woman’s in control Of his fate, and the very next day January awoke with the sun on his face He couldn’t see it but he knew it was a beautiful day So he said: “Let’s take a walk in the garden May” She said “Okay” and dutifully walked beside him And when they passed through the gate, he locked it behind them And said “Now there’s no one here but you and me woman” But Damian was there, she could see him but he couldn’t He was sitting in a tree according to plan And as she walked with her husband she was holding his hand And saying “Babe, I don’t get it, why don’t you trust me more? The way you treat me you must think I’m nothing but a whore Always holding my arm, it’s like you expect me To fuck somebody different every second if you let me We made a solemn vow to be faithful to each other Through the good and the bad, and always stay together But for real, if you’re with me every second it’s no party And January said “Aw, May baby, I’m so sorry I wish I didn’t have to watch you every second Like a chicken hawk – it’s just these jealous thoughts! Ever since I lost my ability to see All I think about is other men humiliating me So I have to keep my property under lock and key And that includes you, my love, obviously I wanna set you free, but I’m afraid of human nature By keeping you with me I’m saving you from temptation And May said, “Oh well, I guess that’s fair Ooh, look up in that tree, such delicious pears! Oh please let me climb up and pick some for us to eat You can guard the base of the tree if you don’t trust me” And he was kinda hungry, so he held the tree’s base And said “Okay, but don’t tell me you never get free space” And for the sensitive folk, please forgive my bluntness But Damian just lifted up her skirts and thrust in May and Damian, sitting in a tree F-U-C-K-I-N-G Like a couple of animals, with May’s jealous husband Obliviously guarding the trunk of it down below Now it’s time for a sublime suspension Of disbelief, ‘cause here comes divine intervention The ancient Roman gods, Pluto and Persephone Happened to be watching from above, and commenced a heated Argument about who was in the right The jealous old husband or the adulterous wife She said “Pluto, why you gotta be so hard on us Why you swear all women are so scandalous? Just look at how he treats her; she’s practically on a leash This guy deserves to get cheated on, honestly” And for his reply, Pluto quoted the poet Ovid And said “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks No wonder he’s jealous, just look at this little slut She’d climb in a tree just like a monkey to get some nuts In fact, fuck that, I’ll give him his sight back And she’ll get caught in the act, yeah, we’ll see how she likes that And I’ll give every man the gift of suspicion Like a weapon to keep an eye on their scandalous woman” And Persephone said “Fine, if you give him his sight back And make men suspicious, then I’ll give women a gift to fight back If your gift to men is to make them jealous twits Then my gift to women is the gift of deceptiveness The gift of sweet words and deflection and flattery Everything they need to keep their men from reality” Isn’t it strange that the gifts the gods gave Sound like the product of an evolutionary arms race So that if anyone was randomly born with an advantage In the battle of the sexes then they’d leave more descendents On average… Ah forget it, call it a divine gift And we’ll go back to the story of January’s blindness Which evaporated miraculously And he looked at his hands like “God damn! I can see! I can see… My wife up in a tree?!? With a man… Fucking in the canopy!?!” And May instantly climbed down While Damian crouched behind some branches to hide himself She said “Oh, thank god it worked! When I first heard about it, I thought it was the oddest cure!” “Cure?!?” he said “But you were bent over a branch With a man…” She said “No, that was an interpretive dance” “There was a man, but he’s gone now, see? No man in the tree; it’s just you and me And you can see, so you shouldn’t be angry I just gave you back your vision, you should thank me It’s a new form of alternative therapy You do an interpretive dance with a man up in a pear tree And it acts as a homeopathic cure for blindness It’s based on the latest in quantum science!” “But I saw your dress pulled up to your chest” He said, “and there was thrusting and exposed flesh” And she said “Look, you know how you can’t trust your sight First thing in the morning until you adjust to the light, right? Well, come on, you’ve been utterly blind For months; darling, you probably just have rusty eyes And besides, didn’t you just say that You had visions in your head of being humiliated So how do you know that it wasn’t one of those I mean, there’s nothing we see that the mind doesn’t control So it isn’t shameful if you hallucinate But you have your vision back! Aw baby, that’s super great!” And January didn’t really wanna fight With his wife, and he was pretty happy for his sight So he said “Okay, baby, maybe I was wrong” And he believed it too; he wasn’t just playing along And they headed home together, walking hand in hand The model relationship between woman and man
3.
09:37
In Kalevala the main man's name was Väinämöinen His fame was growing in the creation of strange noises He trained his voice mainly for the sake of enjoyment And sang poignant verses without gainful employment Väinämöinen could spin a phrase in a way that venerates The first generation of men, in a wave Of inspiration that creates a sense of inner faith In the Finnish nation in the days when this sinful age Of impatient whims begins to blaze like a burning house And just like "murder will out", his verbal clout Was heard about through word of mouth From up North down to dirty South Now the young Joukahainen heard of Väinämöinen's fame And became jealous, 'cause he was newly trained in The same verbal games, and really, who could blame him? The fire of youth burned like a blue flame in Joukahainen Who decided to arrange a duel to attain an Even greater name than Väinämöinen, who was ancient Joukahainen's parents rebuked and forbade him To leave, but their pleas didn't do much to faze him Joukahainen amazed them and brazenly boasted "I know you both say that it's crazy and hopeless But hey, I'm not afraid to get roasted In this day and age the best way to get noticed Is to take the most famous poet's name and expose it As lame; Väinämöinen's a vain, inflated vocalist So I'll take his inflated vocal vein and explode it And someday I'll be praised, celebrated and toasted" And without wasting a moment, Joukahainen departed For Kalevala, the home of Väinämöinen, his target And, far from feint-hearted, for three days he charted His way at a hard pace and came to the unguarded Gates of the garden of Kalevala at last But he wasn’t paying attention to the road, and he crashed Into Väinämöinen, who was traveling on the same path Like two locomotives head to head on train tracks Before Joukahainen even had his strength back Väinämöinen blasted him and gave him flack And asked him for his name and to explain the crash And he answered plain, "I'm the young Joukahainen And I heard there's a vacant-headed, gum-toothed vagrant With a reputation here, so I've come to defame him" Väinämöinen remained cool in the face of these rude statements Like a true statesman, and smoothly replied "I'm in no mood to be crucified For the sake of stupid pride, boy, so move aside" But Joukahainen viewed this a shrewdly disguised Attempt to neutralize his youthful stride And he refused to buy it: "Why should I move aside? I suggest we duel to decide who can best utilize Words, with verses verbally beautified To decide the dispute, and let the loser move aside" Väinämöinen sighed, "'Verbally beautified?' You certain deserve to be verbally brutalized Since you devised this war of words To satisfy your thirst to divide orators For sport; all right, fine, you're first Let’s see what you got” Joukahainen's verse went like this: "My knowledge is deep I polish speech to demolish the weak When I listen to politicians' policies I fall asleep All in all I'd rather follow an ecologist's lead And listen to the swishin' of fish in the lawless seas My vision is flawless, even in the bottomless breach I see what the walrus sees, and feed on mollusc meat In the halls of seaweed the narwhal acknowledges me I perceive the raw qualities of all I can see From the beak of the bald eagle at the peak of the tallest tree To the niche of the swallow that swallows the smallest seed It all follows the pull of the dog-eat-dog creed And if you can not compete then you're obsolete So why not concede defeat and leave Kalevala to me?" Väinämöinen scoffed, "These are all falsities If your 'knowledge is deep' then it's hollow indeed All I see is a wallow of bottomless greed That colours your speech like a black shadow As your words crash and rattle; you asked for this battle So get off the path if that's the last of your babble" But Joukahainen hadn't traveled this far to get dismissed And his next verse reflected his desperate recklessness He said, "I know you're locally respected – great But it doesn't take much to see you're just a fake Like snow, I'm an avalanche; you're just a flake You get money like a church: in a collection plate I'm destined to get paid, while you're destined to beg Like a drug-addicted veteran with a prosthetic leg Allow me to demonstrate why youth is better than age I collect wages while your memories fade Intellectually I gaze on unlimited space While you're afraid and inhibited; you live in a cave This place is too big for you; it's a pitiful waste You should just give it away and start diggin' a grave" In the face of this insolent rage, Väinämöinen's Patience and poise turned to plain annoyance He said, "Trust me boy, your lust for fame is poison What's the point of making poems when you can't enjoy them? And what's the point of entertaining when you've got the lame voice Of a teenaged boy, who came to join in The game just to make noise and be a pain, showing an Absolute disdain for the ancients, going in The face of their ways and the dues paid and owing them?" Now, Joukahainen was growing impatient and sour From humiliation and shame, 'cause he'd wasted his power And been laid naked in the space of an hour So he tried to save face with the grace of a coward "Okay, I don't have the tricks to match wits with a lord So I guess I'll just have to ask my fists for support And strike a dissonant chord with the tip of a sword! Besides, violence is a more difficult sport So keep your piss-poor lyrics 'cause now this is a war!" But Väinämöinen had heard this before, and in spite Of his magnanimous nature he couldn't stand to bite His tongue, or dirty his hands in a fight So his adrenaline ran, and he began to recite Lu-e-kamme kasi katehen Sormet sormien lomahan And the land was transformed; the lake covered with waves Rocks cut away from cliffs as they started to break The sound made the ground beneath shudder and shake And the mountains rumbled, as if under the plates Lay a powerful thundercloud with a stomachache Joukahainen was afraid and he tried to run away But he suddenly felt a heavy weight on his legs And in less than a minute a lake fit for drinking Became a gray swamp with dead fish in it, stinking And in the end when Väinämöinen was finished singing Joukahainen found himself stuck in it, sinking Then his courage began shrinking and caving in And he started whimpering, thinking of nothing but saving his skin As arrogant and brave as he'd been to begin with Joukahainen now found he had to placate his nemesis Since he was in a quick-mud pit with limited Options; the stuff was too thick to swim in it He said, "I may have been a bit of a rude bastard Too fast to challenge the skills of a true master But you have to forgive me; I was enthusiastic But all I wanted to do was be like you, that's it Please don't let drown in this nasty ooze casket!" And Väinämöinen laughed, "Ooh, that's too bad kid But you have to admit, you did ask for it And now you're desperate, beggin' me to set you free I guess my question is, what's in it for me?" And Joukahainen started offering up guns and tools Horses and mules, plots of land, money and jewels As his body sank deeper under the mud of the pool But Väinämöinen wasn't moved by these petty concessions 'Cause he never had any use for pretty new possessions And Joukahainen knew he would never get assistance Unless he was ready to give something really precious As he felt the wet caresses of swamp water On his neck, with his last breath he made a strong offer He said, "My father was blessed with one daughter And he taught her to cook and clean and do chores And I promise you, if you want her, she's yours I'm sure she'd rather marry you than see me a corpse Just get me out of this horrid green porridge!" And Väinämöinen smiled, utterly delighted And recited a verse, and Joukahainen glided out of the swamp And alighted on the shore, and Väinämöinen warmly invited Him to visit, once he and the boy's sister were united Joukahainen returned home, ashamed and embarrassed And announced to his parents his sister's arranged marriage And his sister complained in badly-strained spirits Like, "Väinämöinen was old and had a strange appearance" But Joukahainen's mother just congratulated her For finding a man greater than the saps who dated her She said, "Väinämöinen is famous and has a way with words And besides, look at your father and I, we made it work" But Joukahainen’s sister did not marry Väinämöinen She turned into a fish, but that’s another story
4.
07:39
Once upon a noontime dreary, while I rested, weak and weary, Half the day was done and hunger pains had won me o’er. In a truck I sat while eating, with my stomach still entreating Me to eat my fill, depleting all the food I had in store. “I’d best save something yet,” I thought, “and not eat all I have in store, For later I may hunger more.” Ah, distinctly I remember, ‘twas six months since last December, And now summer’s radiant ember left few shadows to explore. Vainly I had sought to borrow from hard work surcease of sorrow, Knowing well that no tomorrow resurrects the day before. Nor can any year to come return to me the year before, A memory now, forevermore. Then this silken, sad, uncertain sound closed round me like a curtain; It thrilled me, filled me with an angst I’d felt a thousand times before, So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I sat repeating, “‘Tis some insect bent on eating of my blood and nothing more, Some small starving insect, merely one of countless thousands more.” And at that, I shut the door. Presently, my soul grew stronger; fearing the insect then no longer, “Mosquito,” said I, “or black fly, truly your forgiveness I implore, But the fact is I was eating, and was startled by your greeting, And no doubt sent you retreating from the slamming of my door. Enter now though, you are welcome.” Here I opened wide the door; Silence there, and nothing more. Far into that silence listening, fearing, perspiration glistening, Doubting, awakening to anxieties I had never felt before. But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And my thoughts, though still unspoken, hastened to the year before, It was a year of pure enjoyment all too fleeting to endure Unrivalled yet, and evermore Thus I then returned to eating, as my unease was fast and fleeting, I turned my intent unto an apple and soon ate it to the core. Then to dispose that core I threw it, caring little what or who it Struck upon its course, though to it glancing, up and out the door; And there hovered a Mosquito just outside the crew-cab door, Hovered there, and nothing more. Startled then and struck by panic, I reached out and with a manic Motion, closed my hand around the handle and drew shut the open door, But my effort was not heeded, for the insect, unimpeded, Flew into the truck and speeded to the handle of the door, And there it perched upon the handle of my foreman’s crew-cab door, Perched and sat, and nothing more. This Mosquito then was steering my sad fancy into sneering By its nature and intent and by the countenance it wore. So I said, “Though you’ve gained entry, surely I’m no royal sentry, Admitting only insect gentry through this stately crew-cab door. Tell me what thy lordly name is, that thou dare disturb my door.” Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.” Much I marveled this ungainly bug to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore. For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing on the handle of a door, Bug or beast upon the handle of his foreman’s crew-cab door, With such a name as “Nevermore.” But the Mosquito, sitting lonely on that handle, uttered only That one word, as if its soul in that one word did it outpour. Nothing further then it uttered, not a wing it flicked or fluttered, ‘Til I scarcely more than muttered, “Other times have flown before, In a moment it will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.” Then the bug said, “Nevermore.” Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, “Doubtless,” said I, “What it utters is its only stock and store, Found through some freakish mutation, or perhaps hallucination Or my mad imagination conjured up that ‘Nevermore.’” My reason dared me to discover how I heard that ‘Nevermore.’ My sanity this burden bore. But no answer still was given, and as I was fixed and driven, I puzzled further at the nature of this insect on my door. Farther then from reason sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy into fancy, thinking what this insect on my door, What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous insect on my door Meant in saying, “Nevermore.” This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To that bug whose beady eyes now burned into my bosom’s core. This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the head-rest’s plastic lining, and as they had moments before, My fancied thoughts soon wandered back to that elated year before, Which would return, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, as my excited nerves grew tenser, As in my mind I cultured malice for that insect on my door. “Wretch!” I spat, “What God has made thee? What silver coin the devil paid thee? Get thee from my sight and fade thee, like my memories of before! Take with thee this crippled quandary and forget the year before!” Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.” “Prophet!” said I, “Thing of evil! Prophet still, if bug or devil! Whether tempter sent or whether coughed up from this clear-cut’s core, Desolate yet all undaunted, in this forest-land enchanted, In this truck by horror haunted, tell me truly I implore, Will that year ever return? Tell me, tell me, I implore!” Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.” “Prophet!” said I, “Thing of evil! Prophet still, if bug or devil! By this nature all around us, the only god we both adore, Tell this soul replete with sorrow if upon another morrow I will be able to borrow bliss from memories of before, Memories of that rare and radiant, lovely, lost, and thus lamented year before. Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.” “Be that word our sign of parting, bug or fiend!” I shrieked upstarting; “Get thee back into the wreckage of this tortured clear-cut’s core! Leave no red welt as a token of the lie thy soul has spoken, Leave my loneliness unbroken! Quit the handle of my door! Take thy proboscis from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door! Quoth the Mosquito, “Nevermore.” And the Mosquito, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the lustrous chrome handle of my foreman’s crew-cab door, And its eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming, And the sunlight o’er it streaming throws its shadow on the floor. And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, Shall be lifted – nevermore.
5.
07:54
Yo, listen up, I wanna say some things About the days of ancient Danish kings One of the first was a foundling Who flourished called Shield Shaefing Whose great grandson Hrothgar Was in charge of the Danes when this tale is told The tale of a mead hall harrowed By a terror, and a hero called Beowulf A massive mead hall – Heorot Hrothgar had it built And after he filled it with dancing and drinking And laughter and singing, happy people Yeah, but that was brief though There was a monster prowling on the moors Grendel, and for him the sound Of carousing was just an obnoxious roar Now Grendel’s been called a fiend Cursed by God, a powerful demon Yeah, lots of awful things, And it’s true that the works that he wrought were fiendish But these were superstitious folk, And yes, I mean both the Christian poet And the old pagan text he re-wrote Grendel’s flesh was physical Now I’ve heard some outlandish conjectures From critics about how Grendel’s cannibalism Was essentially different from the psychopathic Pleasures of a man like Hannibal Lecter One theory goes that he was the last Of a band of Neanderthal wretches Another says that he was an apparition The province of psychoanalysis Yeah, rabid secularists like me Wanna cut to the heart of a story Maybe he had some deformity In his eardrums, now that would be parsimony It doesn’t matter – you know as well As I do that there’s no hell No gods, no demons, no elves Delivering gifts on Noel And I say “Oh well” So what if Grendel’s nature isn’t clear-cut? All that matters here is the level Of fear that he brought to Heorot They say at night he snuck in Greedy and grim, and murdered thirty men But even if it was just three men Would he be any less of a demon? Grendel left the Spear-Danes screamin’ And they couldn’t even deal him a cut He just killed when he wanted and spilled so much blood That it left a bit of a chill on their fun So they prayed to their pagan gods for relief If only they had Jesus! If only they knew what we know now How Jesus comes to your aid when he’s needed! Forgive me for being facetious It’s just that divine intervention Was just as non-existent then As now as a help in a time of oppression What happened instead was That word spread to the seven seas To the friends and enemies of the Danes That Hrothgar’s hall stood empty And it spread to the Geats, to Sweden To the land of Beowulf And him and his men donned their chain-mail coats And sailed for the Danish coast And it wasn’t long before they stood Sea-swept, and rain-soaked In Hrothgar’s great mead hall And there Beowulf made his famous boast He said: “Anyone who’s ever seen me fight Knows that I’ve never been the type to back down I’ve suffered extremes defending the Geats And I’ve never had a match ‘til now But I’ve heard there’s a fiend in your land A demon who has no fear of reprisal Who creeps in the night and eats you alive And threatens your mere survival So here’s my boast: I’ve heard it said That Grendel fights with no weapons So I’ll go toe to toe with no sword in my hand And no shield by my side for protection Yeah, hand-to-hand combat! Just me and the fiend in a fight to the death And if Grendel wins Well then best believe he’ll be feeding tonight on my flesh!” Well, Hrothgrar was quite impressed With the strong words of this conqueror And he ordered a feast to be served to the Geats And the mead hall was soon full of drunkards But their comforts were soon disturbed By a servant of the king called Unferth A weaselly little flea who was eager to see Beowulf’s pride get punctured “What vanity!” he cried to the crowd “This man lives in a fantasy If he thinks he can defeat Such a powerful enemy single-handedly His accomplishments are nothing But narcissistic non-existent nonsense How can you defeat a monster when you even lost to Your friend Breca in a swimming contest?” But Beowulf wasn’t nonplussed By this obnoxious onslaught, naw He said: “You’s a flea, and I’m the big dawg I scratch you off my balls with my muthafuckin’ paws Besides, bitch, your information is wrong, I beat Breca and cut off the python Tentacles of every muthafuckin’ leviathan That tried it on up in that quiet storm And anyway If you had any skill Then Grendel couldn’t kill all your men And still go back to his den at the end and chill!” After that, Unferth, basically Well, he just shut the fuck up Maybe because of Beowulf’s Gratuitous use of the word “muthafucka” Yeah, it’s offensive language But come on, this is Anglo-Saxon You can’t expect manners From men of action, nah, that’s a plain distraction After his word-clash with Unferth Beowulf went back to the feast And kept on boasting out loud About how he was gonna tackle the beast And then Hrothgar went to bed And left the guard to Beowulf and the rest of the Geats And the fires burned low And the mead hall was soon fast asleep And that’s when the shadow stalker Grendel, came greedily loping Down from the mountain and out of the mist ‘Cause he could smell fresh human meat for the gulping And the mead-hall was dozing Every single person in the place was unconscious Except for Beowulf Who lay awake in the darkness waiting for the monster The hall was erected as a fortress But Grendel just smashed the doors in With his massive hands and grabbed the first warrior In sight and viciously slashed and gored him Mmm, the taste of his flesh was gorgeous And Grendel was ready for more, just Itching to turn the rest of these poor Wretches into a pile of dismembered corpses So he moved like a phantom Over to the next man’s form on the floor But that’s when he felt a strong hand Clamp on to his wrist and twist back his arm Then Grendel felt a kind of pain That he never in his life had to contemplate Squeezed! Like by an anaconda snake And only one thought in his mind: don’t fight, run away! But he was boa constricted Beowulf had him in a death-grip I mean, you know how much pain is inflicted Right? When your arm gets twisted? Well the intended victim was the predator now And the hall filled with the most pitiful sound This long, drawn-out, desperate howl Like: “Aaaaooooooowww!” And Geat warriors surrounded Grendel With their swords drawn and tried to stab him But none of them could get a blow past him So they swore that his skin was enchanted But some form of spell-casting So that no physical weapon could scratch him But what do you think the chances are That they just chickened out and called it magic? I mean, it does sound like one of those embellishments Invented by storytellers just To make Beowulf’s belligerence And bellicose rhetoric sound like prescience Yeah, so his men were ineffective But Grendel’s howls were blended Now with the sickening sound of ligaments Twisting out of position and ripping tendons Ow! Then his limb disconnected And Grendel ran back out into the mist And Beowulf raised the severed arm aloft Still held in his fist And the Geat warriors gathered ‘round Eager to see the demon flesh And they all agreed that, yes Grendel was soon gonna bleed to death Then they mounted the arm as a trophy On the wall to inspire their fire-side boasting And the troubadours immortalized Beowulf’s heroic deeds in their poetry And I wish I could end this scene With the Danes and Geats on easy street But heroes fight demons in threes So, enter Angelina Jolie As Grendel’s mother, a feminine killer With collagen lips and swollen breasts-s-s And when Beowulf confronted her All he really wanted was sex God damn it Robert Zemeckis Your Hollywood epic with all of it Marketing methods is confounding My honest efforts to keep this poem authentic! It’s pathetic! All I see when I picture Grendel’s mother, instead of a hideous monster Is Crispin Glover caressing his digitally-rendered Mom like an incestuous lover And I’ll never recover, so forget it! If you want to know her actual facial features Ask your twelfth-grade teachers, or college professors They’re the last gate-keepers on tradition Or read Seamus Heaney’s version His verse is amazing! But any pop-culture interpretation Is subject to virtually unlimited changes ‘Cause if you try to please the tourists Then the purists get Tourette’s and curse you And if you try to do the reverse Well, the tourists are known for their lack of endurance So who do I try to please first? Myself, and it usually works So instead of judging like jurists Just sit back and enjoy the experience And I’ll go back to the story Actually, forget it, I’d rather just leave it If you really wanna know how it ends Well then I guess you’d better just read it Go read it Norton publishing Seamus Heaney Dual-language edition Old English Read the introduction too It's pretty informative Do not listen to rap music to get an education It's entertainment You gotta go read Go read

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Original storytelling album produced by Mr. Simmonds. Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Merchant's Tale were remixed and updated in the more recent "Canterbury Tales Remixed" album.

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released July 15, 2010

All Tracks Produced, Mixed, and Mastered by Mr. Simmonds

Gilgamesh
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Ney: Niri Sadeh
Clarinet: Koby Israelite
Piano: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Epic of Gilgamesh

Merchant's Tale
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Keys: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Merchant's Tale

Kalevala
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Vocals: Noa Bodner
Additional Keys: Simon Kendall
Wikipedia: Kalevala

Mosquito
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Wikipedia: The Raven

Beowulf
(D. Brinkman, J. Simmonds)
Additional Vocals: Noa Bodner
Wikipedia: Beowulf

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Canadian hip-hop with an intellectual bent, nothing but sexy beats and sumptuous brain food.

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